Here’s yet another story from An Imaginary Trip Around the World, the brand-new writing collection from the University Settlement Adult Literacy Program and the NYU Gallatin Writing Program. The following story, along with the other stories in the collection, comes from the Advanced Writing Class taught by Prof. June Foley of NYU Gallatin with the help of undergraduate student-teachers. Enjoy!
Let’s Talk about Coffee
Before I began to travel, there was nothing I thought was more Brazilian than coffee. With time, I learned that the beverage is an international passion, as many countries appreciate it their own way. But just the smell of it reminds me a lot of my childhood house.
Every afternoon, my mother would send someone to bring the recently baked bread from the “padaria” or she would bake a cake herself so she could sit at the small table we had in the kitchen and enjoy one of them with some cups of coffee. I couldn’t understand how coffee could smell so good and taste so bad. My mother would drink it in spite of the weather (most of the time, excruciating heat), and she would always drink it very hot.
For us, it’s like part of a ritual. Every time you get to a Brazilian house, someone offers you coffee right away. It’s almost like a serum that everybody needs to drink before they are able to talk about anything. Business is done over it. Family matters are discussed over it. Nobody leaves a restaurant table before most of the people have had their coffee.
It took me a while to get used to the taste, but I felt I had to. (I’m Brazilian, right?) But again, I gave it a meaning; it became to me a way of pausing during work. I was always running up and down like crazy, but I would stop for some minutes to drink a cup of joe and talk a little bit with a friend.
Today, coffee is one of my habits. I drink it every day without thinking much about it. But every time I enter a coffee shop, the smell brings something back to me. I can still see the old kitchen and the odd little table. And I smile, sure that the taste I’m about to try is never going to be as good as that smell.